The Association of Banana Producers of Magdalena and La Guajira, ASBAMA, has expressed its concern about the effects caused by drug trafficking, which during 2019 caused the sector to have significant economic losses, a trend that has continued in 2020 and has led several sector companies to present themselves as victims before the Attorney General's Office.
Banana producers and marketers affiliated to the association, which have more than 14,000 cultivated hectares of bananas, invest annually in technology, training, and security measures close to 500,000 pesos per hectare, in order to prevent banana contamination and to avoid that any contaminated fruit reaches foreign ports.
"In 2019 the authorities managed to hit drug trafficking hard thanks to investments in the sector, the alert system that exists throughout the banana production and transport chain to the Port of Santa Marta, the use of scanners that check 100% of the cargo and the increased manual inspection performed by the Narcotics Police. However, each of these operations significantly impacted the cost for producers, affecting the competitiveness of the fruit in international markets,” stated Jose Francisco Zuñiga Cotes, the Executive President of ASBAMA.
In 2019, the companies and producers affiliated with ASBAMA exported an estimated 33.8 million boxes of bananas. This fruit was the main product mobilized through the Port of Santa Marta and the main export product of the departments of Magdalena and La Guajira, which makes it a very attractive target for criminal organizations seeking to take drugs to other markets.
Despite the joint work between the banana sector and the Colombian Narcotics Police, the events that affect the economy, security, and reputation of the banana sector continue to take place. This seriously affects a sector that accounts for 43.7% of the Agricultural GDP of the department of Magdalena, 31.4% of the Agricultural GDP of La Guajira, and that annually generates about 49,000 jobs in the Colombian Caribbean region.
"Even though the joint work with the authorities has been constant, we call on the National Government so that they help us increase security actions to control the impact of drug trafficking in the region, which not only affects the banana sector but also other products like avocado. We farmers are exposed to a very high-security risk. Banana growers make great prevention efforts, but it might become unsustainable to continuing to making them,” concluded the President of ASBAMA.
For more information:
Banana Producers Association from Magdalena
and La Guajira, ASBAMA